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Wabash Prizes in Fiction and Poetry NOW OPEN

Send us your fiction and poetry by November 15th, 2016 and enter our 2016 Wabash Prize in Fiction or Poetry. Submissions cost $20 and the fee includes a copy of the contest issue. Learn more about the guidelines for submission under our Contest tab. Final Fiction Judge: Adam Johnson Final Poetry Judge: Reginald Dwayne Betts First Prize: $1000 and publication in Sycamore Review

Review: Roy Jacobsen’s Borders

Review: Roy Jacobsen’s Borders by Jeff Amos Roy Jacobsen’s Borders begins with the whimsical anecdote of a miller’s attempt to construct a small footbridge over the Our River between Luxembourg and Germany, but swells into a tale of history, family, and identity in a community of fluid borders. Set primarily in a small valley in…

Best American Poetry 2016 Shout Outs

We are happy/grateful/lucky to announce that two members of the Sycamore Review family have poems coming out in Best American this year. Please go here to check out Allison Davis’s poem “The Heart of It All + A Free Beer,”  which first appeared in Sycamore Review’s issue 26.2. While there, we hope you’ll also read our ever-incredible faculty advisor Marianne Boruch’s poem “I Get to Float Invisible.”

Review: Ben Lerner’s The Hatred of Poetry

by Bess Cooley, Managing Editor It makes sense to begin where Ben Lerner begins The Hatred of Poetry—with an excerpt from Marianne Moore’s poem “Poetry.” She writes, “One discovers in / it, after all, a place for the genuine.” Lerner writes that there’s “no such thing” as a genuine poem. Poetry only offers a place for it, and maybe that’s at the root of hatred for it—a hatred this book understands and tries to permeate rather than diffuse. It’s Moore’s “a place for the genuine” [emphasis added] that Lerner lights on as a fairer expectation to put on poetry. He…

So Much for That Winter

A Review of Dorthe Nors’ So Much for That Winter by Hannah Rahimi Cynicism and hope jostle for position in Dorthe Nors’ new pair of novellas, as Nors addresses crucial questions of contemporary existence with great humor and humanity. In “Minna Needs Rehearsal Space,” an avant-garde musician is torn between a need for creative solitude and a desire to connect, easily menaced by the brash reality of adult life—a smug mothers’ group, a narcissistic ex-lover, an overbearing sister, and acquaintances whose attachments and demands take on parasitic proportions. Her artistic temperament renders her particularly vulnerable to the callousness of contemporary…

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

Published in Paperback by Graywolf Press, 2016 Review by Bess Cooley Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts is a near perfect example of form and content fitting together, informing one another. This book of nonfiction questions and pushes against gender binaries and traditional gender roles, while also questioning and pushing against the nonfiction genre itself, rejecting the traditional role of writing. Nelson’s prose has done this all along: her book Jane: A Murder mixes together various nonfiction styles, while Bluets doesn’t adhere to tradition and, at first glance, doesn’t look like nonfiction at all—more like prose poems or small meditations on the…

Winner of 2016 Wabash Prize in Nonfiction Announced

We would like to congratulate Kristin Nichols on winning first place in our 2016 Wabash Prize for Nonfiction with her essay, “Young Men Fall.” We would also like to recognize the excellence of Bob Brunk’s essay, “The Smell of Sunlight on Stones,” our runner-up in the contest. Congratulations Kristin and Bob! Michelle Tea, the final judge in our contest, had the following to say about these two essays: 1st Place: “Young Men Fall” I was taken with this story from the start, intrigued by the author’s strategy for sharing it (as it must be shared) with others.. Such a critical story, the passing…

Jamaal May’s The Big Book of Exit Strategies

Review By: Bess Cooley, Managing Editor Birds searching for bread. A fist fight. Fences. Lampposts. All these in the first two poems, immediately setting up Jamaal May’s second poetry collection, The Big Book of Exit Strategies. This is an urban book, a book of city landscapes—particularly Detroit, the author’s hometown. The second poem in this collection, “There Are Birds Here,” immediately subverts expectations of what Detroit will look like in this book. After May writes that bread is torn for the birds “like confetti,” he clarifies:   I don’t mean the bread is torn like cotton, I said confetti, and…

Review: Sjohnna McCray’s Rapture

The collection is a glimpse into one person’s life thus far—and it’s a stunning glimpse, like living through somebody else, sifting through family history documents and discovering what lies behind them.